Three weeks today we will be heading down to Provence, ready to sign the final documents that will be needed to complete our house purchase, which as you can imagine is something we’re really looking forward to (to say the least!)
To be honest we’d originally thought that just one of us would travel down to take over the house, with the other one following a couple of weeks later. This required us to sign a Power of Attorney, which wasn’t a problem for us, but became a major problem when we tried to get my hubby’s signature witnessed by a local Solicitor. We thought (naively) that it would simply be a case of him signing the document in front of the Solicitor, with a copy of his passport to prove his identity, which could then be officially verified …… we were very much mistaken!
To cut a long story short, after visiting a number of local Solicitors with all refusing to verify the signature we’ve decided that it will be easier for us both to drive down, sign the papers in person and spend the first night together in the house, before he flies home the following day.
This year the aim is that either my hubby or I will be at the house from the date we take it over until mid-September. It will be very strange spending time apart, but it’s really important for us to be able to get our feet under the table and to get under the skin of the area, starting to live our long-held dream.
This means though that our Summer travel plans are rather complicated and we’re now finding out just how many different ways there are to travel to Provence……. the really sad thing is that we now have a spreadsheet running just to keep on top of who is where , when and how they will be travelling – in fact it is so well designed that I think my hubby may have missed his vocation in life as a travel planner!
So how many ways have we booked so far?
Trains – to date 3 different types of train travel:
- The Tunnel…………..Even though you wouldn’t describe the drive to Ashford from the South West as easy, it’s worth doing to take the Shuttle through the Tunnel to get to Calais. It’s a real delight to just drive straight off the train, directly onto the Autoroute and be on our way South. This Summer it will be even better as we’ll be travelling with our cat, so she won’t have to be left alone in the car whilst we travel, which would be the case on the ferry. We tend to book the flexi-tickets – they do cost slightly more, but it takes the worry out of the long drives to the ports and means we can travel when we arrive, which has proved really useful in the past. For more information on the Tunnel crossings https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/tickets/
- TGV ……………… I’ve always wanted to travel on a TGV since I first heard about them in my French lessons at school and finally I’ll get the chance, having booked them to travel from Paris to Avignon and back again to connect to flights back to England. They are quick, there’s a regular service & we’ve found them incredibly easy to book thanks to https://www.captaintrain.com/en a really easy booking app.
- Eurostar …………. We had to find an opportunity to use the Eurostar service from London to Avignon, as it sounds such a simple way to travel to Provence and have now managed to book it for our trip in December. I must admit that I’m really looking forward to just sitting back and watching the landscape changing as we hurtle South and we’ll even get an evening in London before we leave to enjoy the Christmas lights. http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en
Planes ………….. Again lots of choice for different routes
- Exeter to Paris ……… bizarrely we have found this to be one of the quickest & cheapest routes to use (linked with the TGV). With Exeter airport only about 30 minutes away it’s an easy commute for us and there are regular flights with Flybe to CDG airport, with connections shortly after to the TGV to Avignon via Lyon. https://www.flybe.com/
- Bristol to Marseille …….. this is one of our favourite routes with EasyJet as we don’t have to travel too far at either end of our journey, which always feels a real luxury. The only drawback is that the flights are not as regular as we would like them to be with 1 flight a week in the winter & only a couple in the summer, which don’t always tie in with our travel dates. http://www.easyjet.com/en/
- Bristol to Beziers ……… Beziers is just over a 2 hr drive from the Luberon so it takes a little longer to do the drive to or from the house in France, but again it is nice to travel from Bristol. I must admit Ryanair is not my favourite travel experience, but it is a very cheap route in the summer months and means that my hubby can fly home as soon as I arrive and be back in time for a mid afternoon cream-tea, whilst I can pop to the lovely market at Pezenas when I arrive, before heading across to the house. https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/
- Heathrow to Marseille ………. Heathrow is a bit more difficult for us to get to, but our eldest son is quite happy travelling on this route and so he’ll be using it when he comes out at a different time to us. It’s easy and there are regular flights and at least with BA you do get a free drink! http://www.britishairways.com/travel/home/public/en_gb
Automobiles……………. Just there & back this time.
The drive from home to the Luberon is approximately 935 miles, which never sounds too bad if you say it quickly enough, but it is an exhausting drive, particularly for my hubby if he is travelling on his own. This year we will drive the car down with some of our bikes at the end of April & then return with it in mid September, so we haven’t had to plan too much. Over the years we have found different ways to make the trip easier, from stocking up with snacks in the Flexi-Plus lounge at the Tunnel entrance, to finding easy stop-off hotels en route. Our best find though has been the ‘tag’ or ‘blipper’ (as we call it), which sticks to the inside of the windscreen & means that we can go through the dedicated lanes at the peages on the autoroute , allowing us to avoid the often long and bad-tempered queues that form at weekends or in the Summer – it also makes life very easy when having to try to deal with payment machines that are on the wrong side if you are the only person in a right-hand drive car! https://www.saneftolling.co.uk/
Bikes …………… This summer’s big adventure
This summer my hubby & boys will be doing one of the trips by bike …. all 934 miles of it from our home on Dartmoor down the West coast of France & along the canals to Sete. This may be the first (and last) time that they do it, or perhaps it will be the start of a new tradition. They’ll start in mid-July & hope to do the trip in about 2 weeks, which will be tough going, but it will be a great experience for them & certainly a very different way to the other motorised forms of transport we’ll be using. If you fancy knowing more about their journey then please follow them via the Moor to Med by Bike blog, which will track their adventure. https://moortomedbybike.wordpress.com
So that’s it – our travel plans in a nutshell.
In essence there is no easy way to get to Provence from Devon, we have to travel some distance either in England or France, or even both. I think we’re trying just about every possible option there is to travel this summer & I’m sure we’ll eventually settle on one route that proves to be better than the others and when we find it we’ll let you know what we think.
In the meantime though the spread sheet is getting bigger & more complicated, but we’re sure it will all be worth it when we are able to spend time in the Luberon doing the things that make us smile………………………
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